ENID, Okla. — Dozens showed up to Enid Public Schools board of education meeting wearing red in support of officer Mike Dods on Monday night.
Although nothing was on the agenda regarding the former campus police chief, supporters took the opportunity to speak their minds about the ongoing situation and allegations leveled against the district.
“What I am concerned about dates all the way back to Columbine and Sandy Hook and a hundred other school shootings throughout the nation,” supporter Jeremy Kirkley said. “If we don’t take care of violent acts within our school system, how do our students go to school every day feeling safe?”
The Oklahoma Education Association, which is representing Dods, contends that EPS administrators had repeatedly asked Dods not to report violent student incidents to the Garfield County District Attorney’s office, and made threats to employment if he did so.
A public hearing to determine the future of Dods’ employment will be held in the coming weeks, complete with witness testimony. A hearing was originally scheduled for Nov. 14 but was called off after EPS and the OEA created a settlement agreement calling for Dods to be reinstated as an officer for the district.
However, the school board unanimously voted against the agreement, making a public hearing necessary once again.
Several supporters came before the board to simply request that the hearing be scheduled after typical workday hours to ensure that anybody who wants to attend will be able to.
“When officer Dods’ original hearing was scheduled during the school day, it felt secretive to some of those working in Enid,” EPS teacher Jenny Scott told the board.
Kristin Whaley, head of the Enid Education Association, delivered a stack of 1,300 papers, each with a signature expressing support of Mike Dods and also requesting the public hearing be scheduled in the late afternoon or evening hours.
The board decides when to hold such meetings and has traditionally done so at noon, according to EPS spokeswoman Amber Fitzgerald.
Alicia Priest, president of the OEA, was in attendance at the board meeting, though she did not speak publicly, she explained her concerns with the noon hearing time.
“It cuts off the opportunity for community members to have accountability and access and transparency in the system,” Priest said. “I represent over 30,000 teachers across the state, and very rarely do schools have these sorts of hearings during the school day, because it negates the ability for many witnesses to attend.”
A date for the new hearing has not been set, but it will be held some time after the Thanksgiving holiday, EPS said.